Tuesday, 10 August 2010


Seaside species stuck between a rock and a hard place

Of late, I've been pondering on the lost art of periwinklin' (not to be confused with winkle pickers which are in fact pointy-toed male footwear). I don't know how it came about but one day I went for lunch with a friend and the topic came up. In the blink of an eye I was brought back to a regular enough scene in the summer holidays of an Irish child, known locally as 'yung wan'...and no I'm not of asian descent nor aspire to be the next Karate kid...I'm simply a Kerry culchie. In Spain the summer period is usually defined by the three S's -Sun, - Sea, and -Sand, in Ireland we have the three P's -Paper bag (usually white), Pins (safety pins) and Periwinkles. But, Alas, these little gems have fallen by the wayside, or in the case of the poor periwinkles, by the seaside. As a 'yung wan' I wandered the beach with white paper bag in one hand and moderately large safety pin in the other trying to tease out the promised winkle, but things have changed in Irish seaside society. Upcoming 'yung wans' don't have the foggiest when it comes to these meaty molluscs. If I were to ask my younger sibling what a periwinkle was my bets are that her reply would be ..the latest in designer cocktails, a kind of dry martini dressed up with decorative umbrellas, sparkly sugar cubes and the like. So, basically, todays youth don't eat periwinkles. Can you imagine the critter's dismay...a female periwinkle can lay up to 100,000 eggs at a time...this is not good news for periwinkle society...very high birth rate, very low mortality rate. Anywho...
I have always been led to believe that the periwinkle was a purely Irish phenomenon but it turns out I was very wrong. They exist throughout the whole of the North Atlantic Coast i.e. Ireland, Scotland, Northern Spain and Russia. Then I got to thinking...is it possible that Periwinkles have personalities? Does their geographical location have an impact on their development? Have they absorbed some of the charachter traits of their respective lands?

The Irish Periwinkle (Latin name ; Periwinklus Drunkus)
A little green around the edges, not very attractive but full of flavour and charachter. Serve with potatoes. Great for parties.

The Scottish Periwinkle (Latin name ; Perwinklus Braveheartus)
Slightly smaller than your average periwinkle but don't let that fool you, this devilish delicacy packs a punch. Makes a good accompaniment for the Periwinklus Drunkus a.k.a the common Irish Periwinkle.

The Spanish Periwinkle (Latin name ; Periwinklus Iberius)
It has a dark brown shell and a very dramatic flavour. For best results use slow cooking techniques, never be in a rush with this periwinkle. The male meat is always superior to that of the female. Warning : may have aphrodisiac effects if consumed with cheap red wine.

And last but not least..

The Russian Periwinkle (Latin name ; Periwinklus Brutus)
This is by far the largest and most aggressive looking of the periwinkle family. Not very popular outside of the Eastern Bloc and has been rapidly losing popularity within the Bloc since the mid 1980's. No nonsense cooking methods only. Usually eaten raw or in Vodka soup. Important note
Don't store Russian periwinkles with other periwinkle species. They are carnivorous and likely to eat their crustacious comrades.

For further info on the common periwinkle please see


No comments:

Post a Comment